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Passions in Poetry

Important Forum Changes

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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

0 posted 03-17-2006 04:55 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Some seven years ago, the pipTalk forums were created in large part because a small group of people got really, really tired of the gratuitous sex and violence being posted in other poetry forums. I don't think a single one of us were prudes, which is probably why the stuff being posted for shock value neither shocked us nor impressed us, but we figured there had to be a better way to share poetry. From that first day, when there were only a handful of us here and no easy way for anyone else to find us, we labored to maintain a family-oriented atmosphere through the simple expedient of cooperation. The rules didn't really come until much later.

They did eventually come, though, along with an Adults Only forum to house poetry and prose that didn't well fit into the family structure we were building. We intentionally kept the rules very loosely defined, and still continued to rely more on a sense of cooperation than on hard and fast mandates. It worked surprisingly well for a surprisingly long time.

Nothing lasts forever, however, and over the course of the last year we've struggled with two related problems.

1. Loosely defined rules, to be of any use, need to be interpreted by people. That didn't create a problem when we were smaller and the interpretations were always done by the same people, but growth and inevitable changes in staff (not to mention changes in individuals themselves over the years) have resulted in a lot of inconsistency. What was unacceptable in Open Poetry a year ago was suddenly deemed fine today, with a very real danger it would again be unacceptable next week.

2. Loosely defined rules, to be of any use, need to be interpreted by people - and that is NOT an easy job. It can be extremely frustrating for staff to toe the line when the line seems to be constantly moving, and there has been increasing pressure to try to make things a little more black and white and a lot less murky.

The forums have been closed for the past few days, in part so we could try to work through some of these problems. The result is only a start, but I think it has the potential to be a good start.

Here's a brief synopsis of some of the changes you can expect to see:

We have tried to devise a Forum Ratings System, not unlike the movie rating system Hollywood has been following for most of thirty years. Each of the forums now includes a Rating, from G to PG to PG-18 to R to NC-18, listed in the forum description as a live link to an explanation of exactly what it means.

Well, as exact as is possible, at least. We're always going to have a fair bit of gray twixt the black and white, and I have little doubt our Forum Ratings will evolve quite a bit more over the next year. We're going to depend on you, all of you, to help us with that.

The use of adult language in the public forums has consistently been the one area most lacking any real consistency. One person's swear word is often another person's endearment, it seems, and there have been a long series of knock-down Moderator discussions on what should and shouldn't be appropriate. George Carlin's list of "Seven Word You Can't Say on Television" notwithstanding, no two people seem to be able to reach any agreement (indeed, one of our Moderators still vociferously argues that one of the words on Carlin's list should be allowed in the public forums).

Most of my time for the past few days has been spent rewriting just about everything that has to do with posting, replying or editing. We've always had a word filter available, that cute little darlin' that changes naughty words to asterisks, but we've never used it very much because a thinly disguised profanity is still a profanity when the readers can easily interpret the intent. All the asterisks ever did was create more work, both for the Moderators and for the Members who had to edit their work after it was moved to a more appropriate forum.

The new posting software, instead of changing words into asterisks, simply won't allow proscribed words and phrases to be posted in the wrong forum. Period. End of discussion. (You will be given some choices, of course, depending on where you are and what you were doing. The choices, I hope, will be self-evident should you stumble on them.)

Honestly, I could have used a few more days on the software. And probably a few more days after that to better test it. There are likely going to be a few glitches, and there are pieces of the puzzle yet to be built. We need a way so those who are interested can see the list of filtered words, I'd like to incorporate an override so that someone talking about a female dog can still use the right term in a public forum, and those are just two items off the top of my head. Like all else, it's a work in progress, and as always, your suggestions (and condemnations) will be welcome.

Finally, the forums have been rearranged a bit, a task I actually started more than a week ago. Some of the minor changes are indeed so minor I doubt anyone will even notice them. The real goal was to give our Mature Content category a bit more exposure. With the tightening of the rules and language in our public forums (G and GP), the forums in MC are necessarily going to play a greater role at pipTalk.

The Insights forum, in particular, has gained greater prominence and now sits directly beneath the Open Poetry forum. Even though it's seemingly out of order, Insights is still an MC forum and still requires people to request access (mostly to insure no one inadvertently walks through the door without realizing where they're at). For many people, I expect Insights will become their new Open Poetry, a place where they can explore the grittier side of adult life, largely free of the language and thematic strictures in the G and GP forums. Our remaining MC forums remain much as they have in the past, and of course there's always the possibility more MC forums will be needed. That will be up to you guys.

It's important to remember that, when push comes to shove, software, forum ratings, rules, organizations and structures, will never be a substitute for human judgment. We're still going to have inconsistencies, in theme if not in language, and we're still going to run into all those various shades of gray. And, of course, we're still going to have people trying to push the envelope in spite of every hint we throw at them.

Our Moderators have one of the toughest jobs imaginable. Your help and appreciation can make that job immensely rewarding, while your lack of restraint and consideration can just as easily make it unbearably frustrating. The Moderators, first and foremost, come here to write and read and enjoy poetry, just as you do, and whether they will continue to be willing to give freely of their time to keep these forums running will depend on each of you. Should the day arrive when we can no longer insure the quality that makes pipTalk unique, these doors will close, not just for a few days, but forever. The fate of this community rests in the hands of our Moderators.

The fate of the Moderators rests in yours.

Member Patricius
since 12-05-2003
Posts 13488

1 posted 03-17-2006 05:19 PM       View Profile for iliana   Email iliana   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for iliana

Thank you, Ron (and Moderators), for taking such good care of us!

[This message has been edited by iliana (03-18-2006 02:53 AM).]

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Member Patricius
since 03-09-2001
Posts 12129
Idaho, USA

2 posted 03-17-2006 05:33 PM       View Profile for Trillium   Email Trillium   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trillium

Ron:  Thanks for all your hard work and hoepfully, PIP will be here forever!

Betty Lou

Betty Lou Hebert

Member Rara Avis
since 02-22-2002
Posts 9456
Michigan, USA

3 posted 03-17-2006 05:37 PM       View Profile for ThisDiamond   Email ThisDiamond   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit ThisDiamond's Home Page   View IP for ThisDiamond

I have missed the blue these last few days, and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your efforts.
Not an easy task, I'm sure...but then, this is the best poetry group going.

Thanks Ron, and Moderators.
serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839

4 posted 03-17-2006 05:38 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thank you, Ron. I'm sure there will be misunderstandings while we get the "gist" of it--but I think this is a great plan.  

And you are a far more patient person than I--I would have kicked me out years ago.
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Member Rara Avis
since 01-23-2003
Posts 7179
Visiting Earth on a Guest Pass

5 posted 03-17-2006 05:42 PM       View Profile for Ratleader   Email Ratleader   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ratleader's Home Page   View IP for Ratleader

I've been hoping for exactly these changes, so of course not suggesting them....nothing gets things done like being too bashful to make a suggestion....nonetheless I'm truly glad to see this.

Nothing's ever perfect, but this is a big push in that direction -- thank you!

~~(¸¸¸¸ºº>   ~~(¸¸¸¸ºº>  ~~(¸¸ ¸¸ºº>    ~~~(¸¸ER¸¸ºº>

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Member Laureate
since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

6 posted 03-17-2006 05:54 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Thank you Ron.
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Member Elite
since 02-15-2001
Posts 4465

7 posted 03-17-2006 06:03 PM       View Profile for Marshalzu   Email Marshalzu   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Marshalzu's Home Page   View IP for Marshalzu

Great work Ron
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Member Patricius
since 09-09-2000
Posts 10848
In Your Poetic Mind

8 posted 03-17-2006 06:12 PM       View Profile for Greeneyes   Email Greeneyes   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Greeneyes

so good to read these little changes.....thank you Ron..

And so it those we live with
and should know who elude us
But we can still love them
we can love completely
without complete understanding

Gentle Spirit
Member Laureate
since 10-09-2000
Posts 14329

9 posted 03-17-2006 06:14 PM       View Profile for Gentle Spirit   Email Gentle Spirit   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Gentle Spirit

Ron, I think many of us are glad for the new changes and am confident that this will make access to the correct forum per individual much easier.  
*Applause and KUDOS*
Member Empyrean
since 09-21-1999
Posts 28608

10 posted 03-17-2006 06:25 PM       View Profile for Martie   Email Martie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Martie's Home Page   View IP for Martie

I've really missed this place the last few days.  Thank you, Ron, for all the hard work!  
Member Empyrean
since 08-14-2001
Posts 37801
Somewhere in time~

11 posted 03-17-2006 06:40 PM       View Profile for Enchantress   Email Enchantress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Enchantress

Thank you Ron!
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Member Seraphic
since 07-29-99
Posts 20770
on the threshold of a dream

12 posted 03-17-2006 06:43 PM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

Hmmmmm... I'd typed a response I thought was at least somewhat amusing... but the computer gods didn't agree and kicked me off into cyber-wasteland. LOL

So... I'll play it safe this time and just say... thank you, Ron... I like the changes. *S*
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Empyrean
since 05-18-2001
Posts 29020

13 posted 03-17-2006 06:46 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

These forum format changes should help everyone swim more easily through the often murky is-it-appropriate-for-open waters.
Ron, thank you for offering everyone an easy-to-follow identifiable solution.
Member Rara Avis
since 07-25-2000
Posts 9136
Somewhere... out there...

14 posted 03-17-2006 06:51 PM       View Profile for vlraynes   Email vlraynes   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit vlraynes's Home Page   View IP for vlraynes

Thank you, Ron...
Larry C
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Patricius
since 09-10-2001
Posts 10765
United States

15 posted 03-17-2006 07:08 PM       View Profile for Larry C   Email Larry C   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Larry C's Home Page   View IP for Larry C

And all along I thought PiPtalk was my constitutional right. There's always that urge for a fix when it's down. So gone forever would not be pleasant. As usual, I like your creativity and look forward to test driving the new model. Your commitment to this home will never cease to amaze me. Thank you Ron for all you do and provide.
Member Elite
since 09-21-1999
Posts 3657
Sycamore, IL, USA

16 posted 03-17-2006 07:15 PM       View Profile for sandgrain   Email sandgrain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for sandgrain

You are so appreciated, Ron.  When I found this place closed, I thought I'd better say some prayers for you.  Hopefully, I'll remember to do that while they're up and running. I don't know how you do it and you wouldn't even want to attempt explaining it to me.  Bundles and bundles of thanks.


Member Elite
since 05-03-2003
Posts 4246
in the shadows

17 posted 03-17-2006 07:18 PM       View Profile for icebox   Email icebox   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for icebox

I am as much at a loss as always when it comes to censorship and community standards, but I am always appreciative of the gift of this place's existence.  

It would have been artistically nice to have been able still to edit something that had been posted just before the forums were shut down but I realize a dynamic clock is not practical programming.

It has been said of the Supreme Court's attempts at defining "community standards" that the concept can only work in a static and closed monolithic community.  A community of poets can never be that, but I am sure we can try to be somewhat civilized...and forgiving.  We might succeed; who knows, stranger things have happened.

I am not being critical and I don't even attempt to offer solutions.  We struggle here trying to understand each other's views on obscenity and profanity; we balk at the abyss of suicide.  Yet as poets have done throughout history, many of us reel at the obscenities of modern life, the spiritual profanities of world and domestic politics and policies; and, many of us grapple daily with the demons of depression and weigh the "easy" solution of suicide, attractive in its offer to blunt the knives of insight and the horrors of understanding, to end the pain of awareness.

We are at the bottom line also just a community of humans. Always we should remember, it is very easy to be perfect; it is a much more difficult task to be human.
Member Ascendant
since 12-22-2000
Posts 6147
standing on a shadow's lace

18 posted 03-17-2006 07:36 PM       View Profile for 1slick_lady   Email 1slick_lady   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit 1slick_lady's Home Page   View IP for 1slick_lady

thank you for being here we love you , you know that
Member Ascendant
since 12-29-2001
Posts 6868
South Africa

19 posted 03-17-2006 07:53 PM       View Profile for Honeybunch   Email Honeybunch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Honeybunch's Home Page   View IP for Honeybunch

Thank you, Ron!  The blue pages form an important part of my life - I just didn't realise how much until they went missing.  
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

20 posted 03-17-2006 08:16 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

The work that you and your staff continue to produce, Ron, through discussion, and a lot of work on your part, has never ceased to amaze me.  You've taken a home [I was member number 193] into the realms of lives of literally thousands...and we span ages, ethnicities, geographical climes, the whole nine yards, as a "community of poets".  

You continue to offer what other forums won't offer - diversity.  You continue to give freely of your spirit and ingenuity.

While some may disagree that to keep a place clean to your standards may regress their writing, then all I can say is that they are not reaching hard enough to impart what can be said with less graphic use of language, and instead, study the art of the word.

And there are SO many words out there to choose from.

Of course, you've never applied a ball and chain to anyone to get them to post "only here, and no where else" and all members should realize that there will always be an exit door, to go along with the entrance door that they walked through, to find such a "haven".  

So thank you, for the continued tweaking.

Senior Member
since 10-12-2001
Posts 1221

21 posted 03-17-2006 08:42 PM       View Profile for WindWalker   Email WindWalker   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for WindWalker

Ron I really appreciate all the hard work you and your staff do, to maintain this web site. I think it is one of the best poetry boards on the net!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Earth Angel
Member Empyrean
since 08-27-2002
Posts 40647
Realms of Light

22 posted 03-17-2006 08:47 PM       View Profile for Earth Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Earth Angel's Home Page   View IP for Earth Angel

I was going through pipTalk withdrawal ~ and it was not a pretty sight! I missed my home-away-from-home!

Ron, I cannot even imagine how difficult keeping this site up and running, must be!

I join all the other pipsters in expressing my appreciation to you and to all of the moderators! Pip Pip Hooray!

Kit McCallum
Member Laureate
since 04-30-2000
Posts 16920
Ontario, Canada

23 posted 03-17-2006 09:27 PM       View Profile for Kit McCallum   Email Kit McCallum   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kit McCallum

Thank you for all your hard work Ron. You are very much appreciated.
Member Patricius
since 07-05-99
Posts 11105
Glen Hope, PA USA

24 posted 03-17-2006 09:31 PM       View Profile for hoot_owl_rn   Email hoot_owl_rn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit hoot_owl_rn's Home Page   View IP for hoot_owl_rn

As you know, I've been a member on here for a great many years and sometimes much more active than others. I've seen the changes this site has gone through since its conception and all the work and dedication that yourself and the moderators have put into making this a home, not just another poetry site and I applaud you all for that. This recent change is yet another in a long line of changes to make this site more reader hat's off to you, it looks great!
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